The Fulfilled Pilgrimage, however, was but the preliminary to his master-stroke of policy strengthened by force of arms: months of hard fighting and diplomacy were needed before he could direct the blow that made his triumph possible. For the time he had simply made clear to Arabia that Mecca was his holy city, the queen of his would-be dominion, and by scrupulous performance of the old religious rites he had identified Islam both to his followers and to the Meccans themselves with the ancient fadeless traditions of their earlier faith, purified and made permanent by their homage to one God, “the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Mighty, the Wise.”
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
“When the help of God and the Victory arrive, And thou seest men entering the religion of God by troops, Then utter the praise of thy Lord, implore His pardon, for He loveth to turn in mercy.”—The Kuran.
After the swordless triumph of Dzul Cada, 629, Mahomet rested in Medina for about nine months, while he sent out his leaders of expeditions into all parts of the peninsula wherever a rising was threatened, or where he saw the prospect of a conversion by force of arms. The Beni Suleim, whose more powerful allies, the Ghatafan, had given Mahomet much trouble in the past, were still recusant. Mahomet sent an expedition to essay their conversion early in the year, but the Suleim persisted in their enmity and received the Muslim envoys with a shower of arrows. They retired hastily, being insufficiently equipped to risk an attack, and came back to Medina. The Prophet, unabashed, now sent a detachment against the Beni Leith. The encampment was surprised, their camels plundered, their chattels seized, while they themselves were forced to flee in haste to the fastnesses of the desert. The Beni Murra, conquerors of Mahomet’s expeditionary force at Fadak, received now at his hands their delayed but inevitable punishment. The Prophet found himself strong enough, and without any compunction he inflicted the severest chastisement upon them, more especially as an example to the neighbouring tribes of the retribution in store for all who dared to revolt against his newly-won but still precarious power.
Soon after an expedition of fifteen men was sent to Dzat Allah upon the borders of Syria. The men journeyed confidently to their far-off goal, but instead of finding, as they expected, a few chiefs at the head of ill-organised armies, they found arrayed against them an overwhelming force, well led and disciplined. They called upon them to embrace Islam with the fine courage of certain failure. The Bedouin hordes scoffed at the exhortation, and forthwith slew the whole company except one, who managed to escape to Medina with the tale. The catastrophe was a signal for a massed attack upon Mahomet’s power from the whole of the border district, led by the feudatories of Heraclius, who were bent upon exterminating the upstart.